Players to Watch: Angel di Maria, Pedro Alvaro Munitis, Nelson Haedo Valdez
Angel di Maria-He quickly became a favorite of the new manager’s since he’s tallied 3 goals and 4 assists in his 11 starts. The Argentine is often compared to Pedro of Barca because of his versatility. He’ll play a vital role in next Monday’s match against Barca due primarily to his playmaking abilities. Di Maria is young (22ysr old) and full of talent and character. The bright midfielder and former Porto star plays with flare and energy and is exceptionally dangerous around the goal. If you give him time to work his magic with cr7 and ozil, he will crush you.
Pedro Alvaro Munitis-the Santander native and winger/forward now plays for the fighting fishermen and is arguably having his best year ever. He played for the national team earlier in his career (1999-2002). The fiesty 35 yr old and one of the shortest players in the league (at 5’6) is one of the only bright spots this year for a struggling Racing team who could surely use Sergio Canales’ services this year. Munitis has played for both Real Madrid and Deportivo. He welcomes his old team into the Sardinero and hopes to continue his excellent distribution in what we’ll probably be an otherwise boring match.
Nelson Haedo Valdez-The Paraguayan striker who stars for Hercules is having a marvelous year. He played a lot in last summer’s World Cup (he also played in the 2006 WC) but failed to score any goals in either cup. After coming over from Borussia Dortmund in the Bundesliga earlier this year (he also had a stint with Werder Bremen), he’s netted 4 goals already this year. The 26yr old paired with Trezeguet and Drenthe earlier in the year to defeat Barca in the camp nou which is quite the impossible feat. Hercules has struggled as of late but should easily handle another subpar team (Levante) this week in a battle of the Valencian Community teams.
Impact Foreign Player of the Week: Nicolas Bertolo
The Argentine midfielder who is playing for Real Zaragoza( on loan from Palermo) this year has been the best player for “los maños” this year scoring three goals. Alongside new coach “el vasco” aka Javier Aguirre (Mexico), the Boca Juniors youth academy product must help the Aragonese team rise from the relegation zone. It doesn’t get much easier for Nicolas (3 goals this year) and his fellow mates as the yellow submarine marches into the Romareda this weekend.
Hot Team: Barcelona
Some say they are still not at the top of their game but last weekend’s 8-0 thrashing of Almeria was fairly convincing. It even resulted in the ousting of Juanma Lillo from Almeria.
Cold Team: Getafe
The team that hails from Madrid’s suburbs couldn’t even get it done last weekend against Zaragoza (they drew 1-1). Getafe is led by Arizmendi, Colunga, Borja, and Boateng but Michel’s squad (who finished 6th last year), is quickly falling in the table. Their previous matches against Barcelona and Stuttgart resulted in lop sided defeats. Now, they must face Sevilla in the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan and the future doesn’t look promising.
A Few Predictions (using the Quiniela Format):
Barcelona v. Madrid: 2
Zaragoza v. Villarreal: X
Sevilla v. Getafe: 1
Atletico v. Espanyol: 1
Hercules v. Levante: 1
Trainer to Watch: Javier Aguirre
The 51 yr old just took over for the sacked Gay in Mañoland. He’s previously coached the Mexican national team along with Atlante, Pachuca, Osasuna, and Atletico. He played for America, Atlante, Osasuna, and Guadalajara. His best years came while he played for America but hes known as “el vasco” because of his dedication to Osasuna (Navarra) in Spain. He’ll attempt to get Real Zaragoza out of the cellar since they sit in last with only 8 points. The former midfielder saved Osasuna in 2002 and helped them qualify for the champions league. He’s got some decent talent with his new team but the expectations won’t be quite the same. In his first appearance for Zaragoza, he drew against Getafe.
The New Man in Zaragoza, "El Vasco"
Match of the Week: Barcelona v. Madrid
I may be more excited for this match than I am for Christmas this year. Real Madrid haven’t lost since Mourinho took over, that’s 19 matches without a loss. CR7 and Messi are leading the league in goals. Real Madrid have 32 points and Barca 31. The Camp Nou will be rockin. No Raul or Guti, but we do have Villa and Ozil. Two of the best keepers in the World. Both teams sitting atop their champions league tables. But a Monday night? Really? I’m all for Monday Night football but “el clasico” needs to be on a Sunday especially for all of the foreign audiences. As a galactico, I’m disgusted that Barca is going for their fifth straight. Madrid is the best club in the world and Pep is a goof. Pep also hates Jose but Jose has Madrid’s defense looking the toughest it has been in years. Two of the most expensive clubs in the world. Spain won the world cup this past summer. If you know anything about football, you’ll be watching this match (albeit on a Monday, and cheering for Joooseeeee and Criisstiiiannoooo!!!!!). Hala Madrid.
About the Author
Written by Timothy Ashe Jr.
Tim was born and raised in Downers Grove, IL (a suburb of Chicago). He graduated with a degree in Political Science and Spanish from the University of Illinois @ Urbana-Champaign and also holds University English Language Excellence certificates. He's fluent in Spanish and teaches both English and Spanish in his spare time. He's a Real Madrid and Chicago Fire aficionado and is partial towards the EPL and LFP. His hope is that the game of soccer can continue to grow in the U.S.A. and for our men's national team to eventually win the World Cup.